Secure the ones you love

One of the most devastating things that can happen to any family is the unexpected death of loved one. The harsh realities of Sharia law mean that your bank accounts could be frozen and the guardianship of your children be in question if a will is not in place. Wills expert Nita Maru, of The Wills Specialists, help us make some sense of the complexities.

Secure the ones you love

I have heard some concerning stories regarding guardianship of children should either parent decease in the UAE? Could you clarify the position?
In the absence of a will, the UAE courts can intervene regarding the guardianship of your children. I recently experienced such a situation at court where the mother was surviving and the guardianship of her children was awarded to her father in law. A will ensures your children are protected and your wishes are met. If there isn’t one, then there is certainly a risk of intervention by the courts.

I have a will in the UK and a will in the UAE. Will having two wills cause any problems at my death?
The fact that you have two wills will not pose any problems as both wills (so long as they do not conflict) will be processed simultaneously in both jurisdictions. The benefit of having separate wills is to speed up to the process of administration in both jurisdictions.

My husband sponsors me and the children. What effect will his death have on our visas?
The harsh reality is that your visa will be cancelled within 30 days and you will have to leave the country as you no longer have a sponsor. However, there are contingency plans you can put in place for those wishing to stay in the UAE which I can advise on.

If my husband dies will our joint bank accounts get frozen?
In principle, the government will freeze accounts until all liabilities of your husband are cleared such as loans, credit cards and business debts; this can happen within 1 hour of a fatality! The procedure for reactivating the accounts is complex, however the process is expedited where a UAE Will is in place, another reason to make sure have one!

We own property in Dubai in joint names. Will I automatically inherit that property upon my husband’s death?
The general rule is that inheritance issues for Muslim nationals will be dealt with in accordance with Sharia, and for foreigners, the law of the deceased’s home country will apply. There is however some uncertainty with the law surrounding inheritance issues for UAE real estate owned by foreigners and for this reason it is advisable to make a will to clarify a deceased’s wishes regarding the disposed of his estate. This is reinforced by the fact that although you have property in joint names, in the UAE there is no ‘right of survivorship’ concept found in other jurisdictions (i.e. where property passes to the surviving joint owner upon the death of a joint owner). Ultimately the courts will decide on case by case basis.

In the absence of a Will, what would be my entitlement to our estate in the UAE if my husband died? I assume I will inherit everything.
Under Sharia Law each heir has a fixed ‘reserved portion’ of the estate that will be distributed to them. You would receive one eight of the total estate only. If you have children, of the remainder, a son will receive up to two thirds and a daughter up to one third.

Please contact one of our experienced Wills lawyers today for more details. Email us at or call +971 4 448 4284.

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